It’s official, the San Diego Chargers have returned to Los Angeles starting with the 2017 season. After going 21 years without an NFL team, Los Angeles picked up its second within 24 months.
“San Diego has been our home for 56 years. It will always be part of our identity and, my family and I have nothing but gratitude and appreciation for the support and passion our fans have shared with us over the years,” said Chargers CEO Dean Spanos in a written message posted to the Chargers website.
“But, today we turn the page and begin an exciting new era as the Los Angeles Chargers,” Spanos went on. “L.A. is a remarkable place, and while we played our first season there in 1960 and have had fans there ever since, our entire organization knows that we have a tremendous amount of work to do. We must earn the respect and support of LA football fans. We must get back to winning. And, we must make a meaningful contribution, not just on the field, but off the field as a leader and champion for the community.”
It’s not the first time the Chargers were located in L.A. During the American Football League’s inaugural season in 1960, they were one of the league’s first eight teams, and played home games in the Los Angeles Coliseum, which also happened to be home to the USC Trojans and Los Angeles Rams.
This time around the Lightning Bolts will play in the 30,000-seat StubHub Center in Carson for two seasons until it moves in with the Rams in Inglewood in 2019.
After 16 years of trying unsuccessfully to get a brand new, public funded, replacement for the 50-year-old Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the Chargers will be tenants in the new City of Champions arena in Inglewood.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is financing the 298-acre sports, retail and entertainment complex. The Chargers will pay $1 a year and contribute to payments for a $200-million NFL loan and collect proceeds from the sale of personal seat licenses toward the construction.
The area will gain a proven winner and team leader in Quarterback Philip Rivers and Hall of Famer tight end Antonio Gates. A local businesses owner told NBC San Diego “It’s going to hurt,” he said. “We haven’t crunched all the numbers and gotten to the brass tacks of it all to figure out how much it’s going to hurt, but there will be a dip.”
The Chargers season was filled with late game collapses, and the team finished with a 5-11 record and will pick seventh in the upcoming NFL Draft.
Players have reacted via social media and through a radio interview with Philip Rivers. “I want it to be clear that my love for San Diego, the time here, the memories we had, the games, the practices, everything about it is special and awesome,” the quarterback continued on KLSD-AM. The emotion came through in his voice, which cracked at times during the 20-minute conversation.
“But at the same time, I hope people understand this, I have to get excited, fired up about going up to a new area and representing our team and organization and going and trying to win as many games as we can win,” he said. “And be the same guy that I’ve always been. That’s the only way I know.”